NBC Sports NASCAR and INDYCAR commentators Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton, Townsend Bell, and Paul Tracy as well as executive producer Sam Flood, previewed the upcoming NASCAR/INDYCAR crossover weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on NBC on a media conference call on Tuesday afternoon.
Saturday’s and Sunday’s races on NBC mark the first time in history that NASCAR Cup and Xfinity and INDYCAR Series races will be held at the same track on the same weekend.
Saturday marks a motorsports tripleheader on NBC and NBCSN, beginning with the INDYCAR GMR Grand Prix on the IMS road course at 12 p.m. ET on NBC, followed by the NASCAR Xfinity Series Pennzoil 150 on the IMS road course. The action shifts to Daytona International Speedway for the IMSA WeatherTech 240 at Daytona at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
The NASCAR Cup Series takes center stage from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, as NBC Sports kicks off its 2020 NASCAR Cup Series coverage with the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 Powered by Big Machine Records.
Following are excerpts from the call. Click here for a full transcript.
Flood on the significance of the crossover weekend: “We think it’s a really important crossover to have people watch racing, and we think the ability to grow all of motorsports happens to get people to sample different series, and you shouldn’t just be a NASCAR fan, you should be a racing fan … I think this is a great celebration of motorsports, and it happens with Roger Penske, at the track that he now owns, as the perfect launch point for it … I have a strong suspicion that this will be the start of a beautiful relationship, and I can see more of this going forward … This is the future.”
Burton: “When you think about this, 20 years ago, 15 years ago, 10 years ago, heck, five years ago, were we even talking about doing something like this where you have three series at the same racetrack on the same weekend, the premier series in North America on two different racetracks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I mean, think about this; this is a historic weekend and a very important weekend for our country, Fourth of July. Just so many things going on that are good.”
Earnhardt Jr.: “I’m looking forward to seeing the two top forms of motorsports in America today here in the same venue, not only for the fans, but for the people in the industry. There’s so much respect, I think, going back and forth from open wheel to stock car over the decades. There’s been a lot of great circumstances and opportunities where drivers have drove — INDYCAR drivers have raced in stock cars with success and stock car racers have ran at Indy in INDYCARs with success, as well.”
Tracy: “I’ve got to really give a lot of credit for this whole thing to Roger Penske, because having driven for him before and knowing the way that he likes to bring an event and put on an event, to pull this weekend together is probably one of the biggest undertakings in motorsports history to date … To have the top three classes in North America all together on one weekend is really all credit to Roger Penske for pulling that all together in a historic weekend, on a holiday weekend, the 4th of July. Couldn’t be a more fun time.”
Bell on pulling the double of commentating the INDYCAR race and racing in the IMSA race later on Saturday: “I am pulling off something I’ve never tried before, which is commentating and racing on the same day in two different locations … I’m not sure if anybody has ever done that type of double, but we’re going to give it our best shot.”
Burton on calling the race from the broadcast booth at Charlotte Motor Speedway and without fans present: “I enjoy the noise, the feeling … So I’m going to miss that … When that door shuts and I’m in the booth, I’m really in there with my buddies, I’ve got people in my ear talking to me that are my buddies. We’re hanging out with friends. We’re hanging out talking racing, and I think that’s what it’ll turn into … We don’t practice it. We don’t rehearse it. We just go in there and be us. I think that’s when we’re at our best. That’s when we have the most fun.”
Earnhardt Jr. on Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race: “It’s been an exciting season. The racing has been fantastic. We’ve seen some of the best racing that we’ve seen in a long, long time. A lot of unique story lines, some old story lines that continue to remain strong over the last couple years in our series. But right now coming off of Pocono, Denny Hamlin winning seems to have supplanted himself as the championship favorite this season … A lot of great story lines coming into this race, an epic racetrack with a ton of history in motorsports.”
NBC Sports PR